There were a number of results in the opening week of the Braintree Table Tennis League to cause a few ripples, but there is little doubt which one was the most eye-opening.
Fourteen-year-old Jamie Brooks provided the story of the week with an outstanding victory over Helen Barnett, one of division three’s top players.
Barnett, fifth in the division’s averages last year and second the year before, never surrenders easily, but Brooks, of Black Notley I, put in a superb effort to beat her 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9.
He had no answer to Notley E’s new signing Hannah Pitt, who led her side to a 6-4 victory.
Another of Notley’s new signings, Liam Ebbs, also made an impact on his debut for the G team.
In his first season of league play he scored excellent wins over the experienced Mike Smith and Leon Hewitt in the G team’s 8-2 defeat by the club’s F team.
Only Vernon King got the better of him.
There were two wins for 14-year-old Max Plumridge in Netts D’s 6-4 defeat by Felsted RBL C, for whom Matthew Laws was unbeaten.
More predictably there were unbeaten evenings for Tim Townsend and Brian Dixon in Rayne H’s 7-3 win over Notley H, although wins over Declan Baines never come easily, and for Tony Stredder and Charles Wilkinson for Rayne G against Rayne I, which finished 8-2.
The stand-out result in division two was Nomads’ 6-4 win over title favourites Notley B.
It was no great surprise that Kevin Saunders and Richard Kemp registered two wins each, but few people would have predicted a win for Lorraine Burgess over Sean Clift.
Gordon Fairchild’s three wins were not enough to save his team.
Newly promoted Felsted B showed that they do not intend to be sucked back down again easily by starting with a 6-4 win over Hedingham Lions.
David Swash took his three singles.
Liberal C, who could be in the title hunt, started with a 6-4 win over Rayne E, thanks to three wins from Gareth Davies, while Notley C took all ten off their own D team.
Felsted A registered a draw with Rayne F that was creditable for two reasons: a good win for Ian Butler over Dave Marsh, one of the division’s top two for the past two years, and a first win at this level for 15-year-old Nick Butler, in only his second full year of competitive table tennis.
He downed Peter Taylor in three straight games - and even took the first game off Marsh.
Because of the reorganisation of the league to accommodate 11 teams in division one, there were only three matches in the top flight in the first week.
Rayne A started healthily with a 9-1 win over Liberal B where Adrian Pitt prevented the perfect scoreline with a good win over Steve Pennell.
Oliver Hicks, 17, another player starting the season at a higher level, opened his account with an excellent win over Chris Parr in Netts B’s draw with Notley A.
And the unusual scoreline of a 5-4 win for Liberal A over Rayne B reflects the fact that both teams fielded unregistered players. It was also notable for a good win for Ryan Pitt over Ian Hayden.